Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: YA, superheroes/mutants, dystopia, romance, AWESOME
Publication Date: February 5, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: tick, tick, tick, tick, tick
time for war.
Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.
She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.
Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.
In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.
☆: 4.5/5 stars – my heart hurts 😦 But it was worth it!
Review: Okay, so…you know when you watch a movie, or read something that hurts so much it actually feels good? Like plunging into ice cold water – so cold that it actually starts to feel scalding hot? That’s “Unravel Me” right there. There is so much hurting and a love rhombus and usually I’d be screaming at said love rhombus but Mafi makes it work, and work hard. You’re going to need a lot of ice cream after this one, guys – I know I did. And you probably will cry at least once. In this follow up to “Shatter Me” (and the inter-novel novella, “Destroy Me”), Mafi shows that not only that she’s got staying power as an author, but that she’s grown hugely between that first novel/novella and this book. Which is always a joy to watch. If there’s one sequel you have to read this year, it’s most definitely “Unravel Me”.
I think what I really, really love about this series is its boldness when it comes to breaking standard prose form – more precisely, into free verse poetry. I loved all of those moments, and it was really refreshing. A risk? Yes. But Mafi makes it work with keeping things dreamy yet horrifying real, a total dichotomy in reality but here, it all worked so very well. I wish more YA authors would be bold enough to let their prose unravel (no pun intended) into free verse because the results are not only lovely, but interesting. It changes the entire cadence, rhythm, and beat of Juliette’s narration for the remainder of the book.
Okay, so, the love rhombus (because in this book, with all of his flirting, I do kind of consider Kenji a semi-love interest, even if it’s just in name only): It hurts. It hurts a lot. But it’s also steamy as hell. For a YA book? My god. The scenes with both Adam and Warner (separately, not together) actually made me blush, and it’s hard to make me blush. I attribute this to Mafi’s style when writing Juliette – it’s very innocent, yet very knowing at the same time. Throw in the aforementioned poetic changes in prose form, and wow. You get dreamy sensory run-on sentences that will make you want to fan yourself. There’s a sense of loss of innocence in the physical sense for Juliette, though no one actually does the deed. Those almost-but-not-quite moments make things all the steamier – and that’s where Mafi really gets it when it comes to sex and YA – letting down the velvet curtain, as it were, actually makes things MORE attractive and will make you want to come back for more.
Generally, I feel like Mafi grew in every technical area in writing between these two books. In the worldbuilding arena, though, Mafi uses her main cast to do a lot of filling in of backstory when it comes to Omega Point and the rise of the Reestablishment. This is a very clever (and easy) way to keep building your world. She teams up this approach along with the relationship web school of worldbuilding (how everyone connects within a world and using that to actually build it), and bam, said the lady, we have a lot more information and backstory on previous events for pre-“Shatter Me”. It also sheds a lot more light on Kenji and Warner’s characters, specifically, as well as the Big Reveal on Adam’s parentage toward the end of the book. We don’t learn too much more about Juliette here – just that we have a timeline in terms of at which point the Reestablishment took over, and what happened in between that happening and her unintentional murder (and who helped manipulate her into doing it) and then being imprisoned up until Adam and Warner come into her life. Which was awesome. We get new characters, too, that help finally complete a main cast both in the antagonist and protagonist arenas – which is rare, to have a full cast for both sides of the war. Rare but not unpleasant.
As for character growth and development, the relationship web comes to the rescue again in terms of learning more about Adam, Warner, Kenji, and the rest (as well as giving everyone separate character journey/development arcs, no matter how small they may be), but for Juliette alone, Kenji voices our (well, my) frustration with Juliette in terms of being ostracized by the rest of Omega Point – stop sitting on your pity pot, Juliette. I wanted to stand up and cheer. Because as much as I love Juliette and I know how legitimate her very serious issues are, I was getting a bit tired of her throwing herself pity parties every other chapter. So yay Kenji for that one. Thanks to Kenji’s kick in the ass, Juliette is forced to grow, and is forced to realize that there may not just be black and white/good and evil, but a very wide gray range in between that ranges the spectrum between the two. The last scenes are the book were some of the most gratifying in Juliette’s character development so far. And it also made me start frothing at the mouth for book three.
But I think the most significant character development award has to go to Warner – because never has such a villain had such an insane bunch of extremes in one body. He feeds stray dogs, and happily creates mass graves of people who don’t obey him. He loves Juliette, but is willing to kill anyone and everyone to get her. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually want to take up the “Team X vs Team X” flag when it comes to this love rhombus – and in Warner’s favor. He’s easily the most complex character, and I really hope we get another novella from his POV.
Final verdict? Mafi’s grown by leaps and bounds, so if you’ve already started the journey with Juliette and the rest in “Shatter Me” and “Destroy Me”, respectively, you simply must continue it with “Unravel Me”. Definitely one of my favorites of 2013 so far, and one of the most satisfying sequels I’ve read in YA in a very, very long time, “Unravel Me” drops on February 5, 2013 in North America from HarperTeen. Definitely be sure to check it out when you get the chance!